13) Ian McKellen – Professor Van Helsing
Though gentle and unassuming, Sir Ian McKellen brings a commanding presence to nearly every role—a rare balance that would make him the perfect actor to play Professor Van Helsing, foil to Count Dracula, in a Universal Monster film. Despite being in his early 80s, McKellen also looks roughly the same age as Edward Van Sloan—shockingly only 48 years old in the 1931 version of Dracula.
On a side note, McKellen already has some experience with the Universal Monster series, having starred as James Whale—director of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein—in the 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters.
12) Michael Fassbender – Henry Frankenstein
In the new X-Men series, Michael Fassbender portrayed Magneto with a single-minded and zealous determination to achieve his goals—no matter how misguided or dangerous. Similarly, Fassbender gave the part of David—a sentient android from Prometheus and Alien: Covenant—a chilling mad scientist edge, especially when engineering the Xenomorph species that would later terrorize the Nostromo crew. Based on his prior roles, one can surmise that Fassbender would make an excellent choice for Henry Frankenstein—a man who stops at nothing to disprove his skeptics and bring life to a body of his own creation.
Also convenient is that Fassbender has the same height, build, and bone structure of Colin Clive, who played the titular character in the 1931 film. As a result, viewers should have no difficulty accepting Fassbender as Frankenstein—at least as he appeared in the original classic by Universal Studios.
11) Patrick Stewart – Sir John Talbot
With a career in film, television, and theatre spanning over 50 years, Sir Patrick Stewart—like McKellen—earns his status as one of the most distinguished actors of all time. Thus, a new Universal Monster series just wouldn’t feel complete without Stewart’s involvement.
Though not eccentric enough to play Van Helsing, Stewart does exemplify the right mixture of authority, gravitas, and paternal instinct to portray the character of Sir John Talbot—the father of Lawrence Talbot in the original version of The Wolf Man. Unlike his reinvented counterpart from the 2010 remake, however, Sir John Talbot should serve primarily as a source of strength and a voice of reason for his troubled son—an aspect that Stewart, unlike Anthony Hopkins, could properly convey if given the chance.
10) Tom Hiddleston – John Harker
Tom Hiddleston, with his refined manner and smooth British accent, seems like a perfect casting choice for a horror movie set in England during the late 1800s. Although I couldn’t quite place him as one of the main Universal Monsters (with the possible exception of Count Dracula, who I’ll discuss later), Hiddleston should definitely play the character of John Harker—a young and dashing hero figure—in a modern adaptation of Dracula.
It’s worth noting that Hiddleston already has some experience with the monster movie genre, having played the main protagonist in Kong: Skull Island of the MonsterVerse series. Therefore, one can surely imagine Hiddleston appearing in a Universal Monster film—if only in a supporting role.
9) Angelina Jolie – Countess Marya Zaleska / Dracula’s Daughter
During the early stages of the Dark Universe franchise development, the producers expressed an interest in casting Angelina Jolie as the Bride of Frankenstein. Although not a terrible choice for the character, Jolie might offer a more sinister presence as a lesser known, albeit still intriguing, monster—specifically, Dracula’s Daughter.
With her full lips, high cheekbones, and penetrating eyes, Jolie bears a passing resemblance to actress Gloria Holden—known for playing Countess Marya Zaleska, the eponymous female vampire in Dracula’s Daughter. Especially worth noting is that Jolie, like Holden, can easily convey deep, thoughtful emotions through her mesmerizing gaze—a fine asset for playing a creature of demonic, feminine allure.
8) Cillian Murphy – Fritz
Given his intense, creepy stare and his talent for portraying maniacal villains (e.g., Jonathan Crane/the Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy), Cillian Murphy might be a good choice to play Fritz—not to be confused with Bela Lugosi’s Ygor—in a Universal Monster film. In fact, Murphy even bears a vague resemblance to Dwight Frye, who originally played the hunchbacked assistant to Henry Frankenstein.
Despite the subdued nature of many of his characters, Murphy comes across as the type of actor who might do well in the role of a cackling, sadistic fiend like Fritz—known for tormenting the Frankenstein monster with a lit torch in the 1931 film. Because several of his performances have also been somewhat physical, Murphy might enjoy the challenge of depicting someone with a severe spinal deformity.
7) Tyler Mane – The Gill-Man / The Creature from the Black Lagoon
A former pro wrestler known for his portrayals of Sabertooth in the first X-Men movie and Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, Tyler Mane exudes a domineering presence in nearly every film in which he appears. With his imposing height and muscular build, Mane has many of the physical traits that one would associate with a ferocious monster—his limited range as an actor notwithstanding.
Given his talent for playing mute, bestial characters of towering size, Mane would bring a terrifying edge to the Gill Man role. Also, because the Gill-Man—unlike Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man—never revealed much of a sensitive side and seemed to operate solely on raw animal instinct, Mane’s lack of formal acting experience should hardly affect his performance in a Creature from the Black Lagoon remake.
6) James McAvoy – Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde
Best known for playing the young Charles Xavier in the new X-Men series, James McAvoy embodies the civility, intelligence, and sophistication that one would expect of an accomplished professor. Therefore, McAvoy seems like an obvious choice to play Dr. Henry Jekyll in a Universal Monster film.
Of course, in addition to his gentle side, McAvoy also has the ability to juggle multiple personalities—some more dangerous than others—within a single performance. Notably, McAvoy’s character from Split—a disturbed individual with 23 personalities and a cumulative “Beast” personality—shares many commonalities with the Jekyll/Hyde role from Gothic fiction.
5) Cate Blanchett – The Bride of Frankenstein / Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
In the prologue of Bride of Frankenstein, a fictionalized version of Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) recounts the entire first movie prior to describing the “second part” of her story. During the climactic scene, Lanchester also assumed the part of the eponymous Bride before perishing at Castle Frankenstein.
Given her poise and dignity as an actress, Cate Blanchett could easily capture the elegance and erudition of Shelley—assuming that a Bride of Frankenstein remake were to follow the same narrative structure as its predecessor from 1935. In honor of Lanchester’s dual-role in the original movie, one would then expect Blanchett to portray the hissing, frizzy-haired Bride during the final act of the film.
4) Crispin Glover – Jack Griffin / The Invisible Man
When the Dark Universe franchise was first announced, I had mixed feelings about the potential casting of Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man. Though quite talented, Depp has a tendency to overact when playing characters of an insane, quirky, or sociopathic nature.
In my opinion, a better choice for the Invisible Man would be Crispin Glover—known for playing George McFly in Back to the Future and Willard Stiles in the 2003 remake of Willard. Unlike Depp, Glover often restrains his weird and goofy antics with a subdued creepiness, making him the perfect choice to portray a mad scientist like Jack Griffin.
3) Chris Hemsworth – Larry Talbot / The Wolf Man
An imposing, mid-thirties actor who can transition from a playful, lighthearted mood to intense rage while performing, Chris Hemsworth, similar to Lon Chaney Jr., could offer a delicate balance between Larry Talbot—a carefree young man with a passion for love and life—and his beastly counterpart. Though physically comparable to Chaney, Benecio del Toro (star of the 2010 remake) failed to achieve the Talbot/Wolfman contrast at the heart of the character—a problem less likely to manifest if Hemsworth were to assume the role.
Being nearly six inches taller than Patrick Stewart (mentioned earlier as a possible choice to play Sir John Talbot), Hemsworth as the Wolf Man would also emphasize a strong physical difference between father and son—reminiscent of Claude Rains (5’6”) and Chaney (6’2”) in the original film.
2) Richard Armitage – Count Dracula
A British actor known for playing Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, Richard Armitage embodies many physical assets that viewers identify with the iconic Dracula image. Specifically, with his piercing gaze, resonant voice, and towering stature, Armitage would have no trouble assuming the role of Dracula in a modern film adaptation.
Also, if his portrayal of Francis Dollarhyde in season three of Hannibal is any indication, Armitage could easily relate the pure, malicious evil of a monstrous and demonic character like Dracula—possibly the most vile and depraved of all the Universal Monsters.
1) Matt Dillon – The Frankenstein Monster
With his sunken eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and heavy brow ridge, Matt Dillon bears a striking resemblance to the Frankenstein creature of Universal fame. Standing at six feet tall, Dillon would also make for an imposing monster—especially while prowling around in the same thick, bulky boots that Boris Karloff wore in the 1931 classic.
Understandably, many fans might object to a Frankenstein monster played by Dillon—arguably not the most cultured or versatile actor on this list. Nevertheless, viewers need only examine the character of Dallas Winston—the secondary protagonist of The Outsiders—to realize that Dillon can demonstrate the perfect combination of tragic pathos, exterior toughness, and childlike emotion to portray the most iconic, misunderstood movie monster of all time. (In the final act of The Outsiders, Dallas—bruised and bloodied from an earlier fight—even stumbles around like Frankenstein’s monster while mourning the death of Johnny Cade.)
What other actors should appear in a Universal Monster reboot series? Feel free to share your own ideas in the comment section.
(Source for all images: IMDb.com)
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